In what was inarguably the least-surprising development of the 2020 electoral season, Joe Biden announced Thursday morning that he was running for president — and he managed to do so in a way that made it look like he agreed with Trump supporters, if only by accident.
Biden made the announcement in a video, and right off the bat you could tell what the tone of his campaign was going to be: linking the fact that Thomas Jefferson lived in Charlottesville, Virginia, to the outbreak of racial violence there in 2017. As with most veteran politicians, the 76-year-old former vice president managed to take the low road while disguising it in the trappings of the high road.
“It was there in 2017 we saw Klansmen and white supremacists and neo-Nazis come out in the open. Their crazed faces, illuminated by torches, veins bulging and bearing the fangs of racism, chanting the same anti-Semitic bile across Europe in the thirties,” Biden said.
Biden noted that the president had said there were “very fine people on both sides” in the wake of the tragedy that unfolded there — certainly not the president’s best rhetorical moment, but an interesting thing to bring up for Biden, whose alliance with a southern senator who referred to African-Americans as “an inferior race” in order to stop desegregationist busing.
“In that moment, I knew the threat to this nation was unlike any I’d seen in my lifetime,” Biden said.
“I believe history will look back on four years of this president and all he embraces as an aberrant moment in time.”
The core values of this nation… our standing in the world… our very democracy…everything that has made America — America –is at stake. That’s why today I’m announcing my candidacy for President of the United States. #Joe2020 https://t.co/jzaQbyTEz3
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) April 25, 2019
“But if we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation,” he continued. “Who we are. And I cannot stand by and watch that happen.”
It’s interesting, that this incident composes the vast majority of this video. Not any particular policy or vision for America, simply that Orange Man Racist.
The text of the announcement might be the accusation that Trump is sympathetic to neo-Nazis and Klansmen, but the subtext is that Democrats should just face the fact that he’s the most sane and electable among the 20 people running and stop whining about his record. There’s an inspiring message.
However, mixed in with this was a message that sounded like boilerplate campaign sloganeering but was actually something that Trump supporters might indeed agree with. After the watershed moment he described, Biden said that “we are in a battle for the soul of this nation.”
Yes, and that’s why Biden will lose.
When Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, it wasn’t because he was giving voice to the worst excesses among the populace. In fact, conservatives have argued we’ve been in a battle for this nation’s soul for years.
That battle, however, isn’t the battle Biden has talked about. It’s a battle to secure the blessings of freedom and liberty for every American citizen, freedom and liberty from a government that doesn’t particularly respect either.
It’s a battle for virtue and the inherent worth of the individual; Biden is coming from a party whose members have recently been seen defending the sacrosanct right to abortion up until the moment of birth. It is a battle for our constitutional rights, rights which one 2020 Democrat front-runner believe can be abrogated by executive order.
In other words, we’re already in a war for the soul of the nation. Conservatives aren’t the ones who are waging war against everyday Americans and the freedoms they enjoy.
That’s the province of the left.
This was why Donald Trump got elected. For some, they believed that an outsider president could best fight for the soul of the country. For others, they believed he was simply better than the alternative. At least on the latter point, that’ll be doubly true in 2020, when almost all of the candidates are far more liberal than Hillary Clinton.
Biden’s “battle for the soul of this nation” was just another bromide that was supposed to signify his lurch to the left. He’s not wrong, though — if only by accident — and he’s in complete agreement with Trump supporters on this account.
This is a battle. He’s just on the wrong side of it, no matter how much he wants to wave the bloody shirt of Charlottesville as if it would somehow carry him to 270 electoral votes.
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